The Grocery Store

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The old woman bumped her shopping cart head-on into moms.

“Goodness, M.. I’m sorry,” the old woman grumbled.

“Oh, that’s okay,” mom said apologetically with a big smile.” I guess I shouldn’t have stalled in the middle of the aisle.”

Mom’s cart was not in the middle of the aisle, and the old woman simply wasn’t watching what she was doing. “Here, is this what you were reaching for?” handing her the box of whole oats.

“M…yes, thank you,” the old lady mumbled, and rolled away.

Most of what I have learned about people has been in a grocery store. I was seven then, but I still return to any supermarket to refresh my training of psychology. It is the grocery store that one will always find that perfect random sample of humans. The pleasant, the down trodden, the upbeat, the grumblers. No one is left out.

The amazing thing is that ones personality is perfectly real in a supermarket. I remember the joy of my own mother, who always beamed as she strolled through the lanes. Today, I do find it peculiar how my mother found so much enjoyment from pushing a metal wagon, searching for necessities like eggs at an Easter hunt, then paying for them with my family’s hard-earned money.

Was it grumpy people she seeked? Did she enjoy her power of turning another’s frown into a smile? The amazing thing is I never remember anyone being disagreeable with my mom. Others smiled and laughed with her. In times of mourning they cried with her. But no one ever confronted my mom angrily. How can one be angry at a person that naturally radiates a beam of joy?

If there is a single thing I’ve learned in the grocery store, it is one can determine a persons essence in the first five seconds of meeting them. During that five seconds did they push you, cut in front of you, or stare at you blankly? Or did they warmly invite you ahead of them at the checkout counter because you had one quick item to purchase?

Look around the next time you shop at a supermarket. This is your chance to see people how they really are- how you really are. The job title of everyone’s solid white business card now reads “I AM HUMAN.” The homes they live in or the cars they drive are now insignificant.

What do you do when someone bumps you with their cart?

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